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FedEx St Jude Championship: Before the final round, Cameron Smith is two strokes behind JJ Spaun
FedEx St Jude Championship: Before the final round, Cameron Smith is two strokes behind JJ Spaun
FedEx St Jude Championship: Before the final round, Cameron Smith is two strokes behind JJ Spaun
Golf FedEx St Jude Championship: Before the final round, Cameron Smith is two...

FedEx St Jude Championship: Before the final round, Cameron Smith is two strokes behind JJ Spaun

FedEx St Jude Championship: In Memphis enters its final round, Open champion Cameron Smith trails JJ Spaun by two strokes.

With a third-round score of 68, American Spaun climbed to 13 under overall, one stroke ahead of Austrian Sepp Straka.

However, Australian Smith, who would move up to No. 1 in the world with a victory, is just two shots back on 11 under and within striking distance.

Smith, who previously won The Players Championship earlier this year, is tied for third with fellow Americans Trey Mullinax and world No. 14 Will Zalatoris. Zalatoris is vying for his first PGA Tour victory.

A victory for Smith could cause problems for the PGA Tour given rumours that the 28-year-old intends to quit the circuit and go with Saudi-funded LIV Golf.

“One of my goals, probably since the start of the year, is to try to get to that top spot and I’ll try to chase it down,” he said.

As he pursues the second PGA championship of his career, Spaun had three birdies and one bogey. The Valero Open champion from San Diego State now holds or shares the lead in the third round for the third time in his career.

The 31-year-11th-hole old’s birdie was his first of the round. His only bogey came at the 10th, and he later made birdies at holes 16 and 17.

“I know I’ve got to play better than I did today tomorrow,” Spaun said. “You look at the names, I mean, those guys, major champions and multiple winners and you’ve got really hot golfers that are, you know, just playing really good. It’s not going to be easy tomorrow and I don’t think if I play like how I did today, that will be enough.

“I’m just going to give it all I’ve got and hopefully make some more birdies than I did today and we’ll see what happens after we add them up.”

Straka scored five birdies and three bogeys this week after missing cuts for six straight rounds prior to his resurgence. The Austrian missed a nine-foot par putt at the 18th hole for a bogey, blowing a chance to tie for the lead.

“It was a lot of good, a lot of bad, but overall I’m pretty happy with it,” Straka said of his round. “I hung in there nicely, got up and down a couple of times when I needed to and yeah, I was able to convert the few birdie putts that I had.”

Following up his 63 on Friday with another excellent round, Zalatoris scored six birdies and just one bogey. On the back nine, he made four birdies in a six-hole span to gain ground rapidly.

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